By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Grocery cart law seems to be reducing eyesores
Placeholder Image
Fewer abandoned shopping carts seem to be scattered throughout Ceres now that the city has had its shopping cart ordinance in place for a month.

Stores are still in the process of complying with the new law that went into effect on July 10. The City Council enacted the law to crack down on the eyesore created by people who wheel carts away from stores and parking lots - already made illegal by a state law - into neighborhoods. The ordinance focuses on making stores more responsible for corraling their carts that become scattered outside of shopping districts.

"I have seen fewer shopping carts," said Ceres Chief of Police Art deWerk. "The stores have done more to remove the carts before they become a problem. They've become more proactive."

In a cursory check on neighborhoods Thursday afternoon, the Courier found some abandoned carts in a short drive. A green Save Mart cart was tipped on its side at Lawrence and Tenth, not far from another one to the south. On Della Street a Save Mart cart and two gray ones from Wal-Mart were at curb side. Four old metal carts from stores that no longer exist - namely Circle 7 and Lucky stores - appeared on Lawrence Street in downtown Ceres.

The crux of the ordinance calls for stores with carts to develop and file an abandoned cart prevention plan. The plan, due by Sept. 1, spells out how each store will be tracking carts left out in the community and the type of retrieval method they use. Many stores hire cart retrieval companies to round up and return carts. The city expects to be calling those companies to report specific cart locations.

Businesses with 25 carts or less don't have to file a plan.

The ordinance allows the city to collect loose carts if they're not picked up by store premises within three days of the city notifying the business. If the city has to impound carts, they will be held for 30 days. If the store hasn't picked up carts by then, the carts may be sold. The city may also impose an administrative penalty on the cart owner up to $50 for each occurrence in excess of three during a six-month period.

"All the store owners are being very cooperative and it's going very smoothly," said de Werk.

Code enforcement officer Paula Redfern said that the city will soon become more involved with stopping and warning those who are wheeling carts to their homes. She's wait for the store parking lots to post signs by Aug. 10. Stickers will be placed on carts to warn that they can't leave the premises.

Redfern has been calling the stores on a regular basis to report carts.

"Most of the stores have been pretty good about picking up their carts like they're supposed to," said Redfern.

Chief de Werk said the city will still be relying on citizens to report carts left in the lesser traveled neighborhoods.

"We may miss them deep into residential neighborhoods but the city should be able to quickly spot the ones along the major thoroughfares," said de Werk. "We do have to depend on neighbors to let us know."

He said carts may be reported to the city's code enforcement line at 538-5799.

The city also expects that those spotted wheeling carts down the street will be warned. Redfern said she will be instructing city Volunteers in Public Safety (VIPS) who regularly patrol shopping areas.